The Finn once again wrote his name in the history books of the FIA World Rally Championship on Sunday afternoon thanks to a commanding drive in the toughest rally on the calendar.
And Rovanperä’s Safari Rally Kenya win, he says, is the special one so far.
The result not only gave the 21-year-old a 65-point lead in the title race, but also marked Toyota’s first 1-2-3-4 in 29 years.
The 1993 feat was also accomplished in Kenya. Back then, Rovanperä’s compatriot Finn Juha Kankkunen, in a Celica ST185, topped the timesheets.
“It feels good,” Rovanperä told WRC.com. “Of course this win is a bit more special than the others.
“The Safari is a rally that has been well known for a long time and has always been a very important event for Toyota.
“It feels pretty amazing what we’ve achieved and it’s actually quite funny that Toyota was the team that pulled it off last time. Being the winning car with a result like that is simply fantastic.
“I am really proud of the team and what they have done in such a short time to prepare for this rally. The car was really strong but also very fast and we didn’t have any problems in such extreme conditions,” he added.
To give Toyota credit, the GR Yaris’ car was pretty much flawless. But Rovanperä also had to jump in and drive the thing – which is never an easy task in deep ruts and fesh-fesh sand.
Saturday was the decisive day for the youngster. Wet conditions derailed other riders’ attacks, but he thrived and extended his lead over teammate Elfyn Evans by 24.5 seconds. Takamoto Katsuta and Sébastien Ogier completed the Yaris quartet.
That paved the way for an easier Sunday where Rovanperä and co-driver Jonne Halttunen eventually took the spoils with a time of 52.8 seconds.
“We started at a normal pace on Saturday and I saw what the other drivers would do,” he explained.
“Elfyn pushed me hard and in the afternoon when the conditions got difficult everyone started having problems and other things. But we just drove clean and set good times.
“In a rally like this, you don’t necessarily want to fight with your teammates. You know how quickly things can go wrong. Luckily we didn’t have to do that on Sunday so that was good.”